Law enforcement is being urged to increase their utilization of backward-facing facial recognition technology in order to locate perpetrators within the next half-year.
The minister responsible for policing, Chris Philp, has sent a letter to leaders of police forces proposing a goal of surpassing 200,000 searches of static images on the national police database by May through the use of facial recognition technology.
He is also urging law enforcement to increase the use of live facial recognition (LFR) cameras, ahead of a worldwide summit on artificial intelligence (AI) safety next week at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.
Philip stated that these advancements would enable law enforcement to stay ahead of criminals and improve the safety of Britain’s streets.
This week, the Essex police announced that they had started testing LFR technology on the main streets of Chelmsford and Southend. They reported that three arrests had been made, including one for suspicion of rape, after receiving five positive alerts.
The organization Big Brother Watch has labeled the use of this technology by law enforcement as “harmful authoritarian surveillance” and cautioned that it poses a significant risk to civil liberties in the United Kingdom.
In the past, Philp has stated his intention to enable the police to search for UK passport photos.
He intends to combine information from the national police database (PND), the passport office, and other national databases to assist law enforcement in quickly finding a match with just one click.
During that period, advocates for civil liberties expressed concerns that the proposed measures would create a “nightmarish” situation reminiscent of George Orwell’s dystopian novel and would go against fundamental principles of privacy in Britain.
A group consisting of members of Parliament and peers has also recently urged for a halt to the practice of using live facial recognition technology by both law enforcement and private entities.
The program utilizes facial biometric data and can function even when certain parts of the face are obscured.
The live form of the technology captures footage of crowds and compares it with a watch list of wanted suspects, alerting officers when there is a potential match.
65 members of the House of Commons and House of Lords, including former Brexit secretary David Davis, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, Green MP Caroline Lucas, and former Labour shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti, supported a request to cease the implementation of the deployment.
31 organizations, including Big Brother Watch, Liberty, Amnesty International, and the Race Equality Foundation, also supported the joint statement.
On October 6th, Davis publicly stated his backing for the discontinuation of live facial recognition. He shared on Twitter, “Parliament has never explicitly approved the use of live facial recognition. It is a form of mass surveillance without reasonable suspicion and has no place in Britain.”
The Home Office dismisses these concerns, stating that the use of facial recognition cameras is closely regulated by laws protecting data, equality, and human rights. It can only be employed for law enforcement purposes when deemed necessary and appropriate.
The department claims that utilizing AI surveillance techniques like facial recognition can aid law enforcement in accurately identifying individuals wanted for major offenses, as well as locating missing persons.
The argument proposes that AI has the potential to reduce the workload and expenses of police, thus enabling a larger number of officers to be stationed in local neighborhoods.
The Home Office stated that police will be placing notifications in locations where they plan to implement live facial recognition technology.
If the system does not find a match on a watch list, the individual’s information will be promptly and automatically deleted.
The article mentioned that live facial recognition technology has been effectively utilized, such as during last month’s Arsenal vs Tottenham match at the Emirates Stadium, where police apprehended three wanted individuals, including one for sexual offenses.
Philip stated that AI technology is a valuable asset for positive impact, offering vast potential for improving law enforcement and reducing crime.
Live facial recognition, as well as other forms of facial recognition, has a strong legal foundation that has been validated by the judicial system. This technology has successfully aided in the apprehension of numerous dangerous criminals, including those involved in murder and sexual offenses.